Broken Trust

Inside my soul, there’s a deep, dark place which I do not like to share,

It’s not often that part of me sees the light of day, I don’t like feeling vulnerable there.

I have shown that portion of myself to very few, but save one they always betray.

I will never understand how people can appear trustworthy only to break that trust for no apparent reason and simply walk away.

 

The true me is made of many parts, a multitude of shades which integrate.

Happy yellows and angry reds, but I keep certain colors in a well guarded place.

The purple bruised feelings from hurts never healed, embarrassing navy blues that were meant to humiliate,

Inside my soul, there’s a deep, dark place which I do nowt like to share.

 

I hide my feelings with a smile on my face, try to act like nothing’s changed,

But the truth is that it has and you are to blame.

You don’t want a friend, you want someone to stroke your ego.  I can’t do that anymore.

It’s not often that part of me sees the light of day, I don’t like feeling vulnerable there.

 

I trusted you with what I normally keep hidden – my raw feelings that have been fed into again and again.

I showed you who I am and I why I am that way.  At first you acted like you cared, I allowed myself to open up and chip away.

I told you things about myself and shared experiences with you that made me feel exposed.  You pushed me away and turned up your nose.

I have shown that portion of myself to very few, but save one they always betray.

 

Little did I know, the whole time we were friends you were sizing me up, my failures and perceived shortcomings helping you to grow into a bigger person in your own mind.

I was vulnerable and did not know that all you wanted was a sounding board and for me to tell you I envied you – but I do not.

You abandoned me when I needed you, and refuse to tell me why.

I will never understand how people can appear trustworthy only to break that trust for no apparent reason and simply walk away.

The Pony of My Dreams

 

Have I ever told you about my pony?  You know, the one I wanted when I was five?

She had sparkly hooves made of diamonds, as sure as I’m alive.

Her hair was cotton candy, and it shimmered in the sun

It fell in waves of ringlets when she broke into a run.

 

Her skin was deep magenta, vibrant as could be.

I longed to brush against it and have her nuzzle me.

I dreamed of braiding that horse’s tail, of playing with her cotton candy curls.

I loved to watch her jump and run, and do her horsey twirls.

 

Her eyes were aquamarine, of course, as though they were from the sea,

And her nose had cinnamon freckles, which was absolutely adorable to me.

Her eyelashes were at least two inches long, and her tail nearly touched the ground,

She was astonishingly beautiful, and in her a friend I found.

 

When I dreamed of her, I would confide in her, my beautiful, sparkly friend.

All of the things happening in my life, from the beginning of the day to the end.

I told her my problems, my fears, and my joys, she listened every time.

I hoped as I grew she would stay near me, that would have been sublime.

 

But little girls grow up and dreams grow old, and although they may never die,

As you think of them less, think of other things more, they start to prepare to fly.

I found my wings and she received hers.  Ready or not, here we come!

We grew together, then grew apart.  I had new things to discover and couldn’t be glum.

 

I had a hard time leaving my friend behind, though I knew that it must be done.

This was the time for grown-up things, no more childish fun.

The truth is I still sit and think, even now, of days gone by and the time before.

When my life was simpler and not filled all day with responsibilities and chores.

 

A mortgage and kids, the electric bill, too,

Don’t forget the groceries and the house looks like a zoo.

Dinner’s late, the dog’s got out, the cat’s now up a tree,

Of  course, who do we call to fix all this?  None other than Mommy!

 

There are many days I envy my husband because he works outside the home,

The days when I don’t have time for a shower or to even use a comb.

At the end of the day I am happy, even though it is a stressful job

At the end of the day a lot of times I feel like an exhausted blob.

 

If you wonder why my house is a disaster, and trust me, it always is,

It’s because I love my family, and something has to give.

My priority is to give them what they need and take care of the rest as I can,

I think most moms are in the same boat and so, I would like to request an official ban.

 

I hereby ban the word should, as in “you should mop and sweep and dust.”

I ban judgment and competition between mothers, I think this one’s a must.

I ban the skewed idea that somehow mom must do it all,

And that if she doesn’t get it done post haste, the sky is going to fall.

 

Instead of all this judgment, let’s commit to positivity.

I will take care not just of my family, but also take care of me.

I will help in the house, but others should, too, if they live here as well.

I will try to speak in a soft voice and try very hard not to yell.

Why I Face the Void

It is not writer’s block for me,

Which makes it difficult to write.

It’s the fact that I have children.

They are almost never quiet.

 

When it’s so noisy in the house,

It’s very hard to concentrate.

I can’t focus my attention.

They are almost never quiet.

 

I sometimes wake at 2 AM,

For time alone with my own thoughts.

This is the cost of motherhood.

They are almost never quiet.

 

The problem is, when quiet comes,

I become suspicious of that.

I worry what is happening.

They are almost never quiet.

 

They are loud and messy, it’s true.

The truth is though, I don’t mind it,

‘Cause it means I get to have them.

They are almost never quiet.

 

I’ll take the noise, the sticky floors,

No solitude or privacy.

Later, my void will disappear.

They are almost never quiet.

The Blur

When I was a girl, I wondered if I would find someone who would love me for me, no matter what.

You came along and were the answer to those wishes and wonderings.  You searched and waited for me, too.

We both knew almost immediately when we found one another, and that was when our whirlwind began.

We grew together in those first few years in ways we never expected we would.

You went to work one day.

I was still sleeping at 8:30 in the morning and you, dutiful as ever, had ridden the train to the federal building where you work hours before.

I thought there was an earthquake when I was shaken awake that morning.  The phone rang, and it was you.

You told me to turn on CNN because the World Trade Center had been hit.

At first, I didn’t believe you.  I was just waking up and thought that surely this had to be the worst hoax ever.

That was the beginning of the longest day of my life.

I couldn’t call you, but for some reason you were able to get through to me.

You told me that you were standing in your office and could see flames and smoke coming from the Pentagon.

And that is when time stood still.

I have never been more afraid that I might lose you than I was that day.

You quickly told me that the federal government in the DC area was being evacuated that day, effective immediately and then I did not hear from you until you walked through the door late that night.

A trip that normally took 40 minutes turned into a several hour long journey.

The door opened that night and my heart began to beat again, and time at last resumed its normal pace.

Sixteen months after we were married, we became parents and time stood still again.  Our son was beautiful and perfect, and at 9lbs, 12oz he did not look like a newborn next to all the tiny babies in the nursery.

The special outfit I had chosen for him months before did not fit.  We had to find a 3-6 month outfit to take him home in!

When our first baby was only three months old, Hurricane Isabel came.  For the second time, I was afraid I might lose you.

Time stood still again the night we had a flash flood, lost everything, and had to start our lives from scratch.

It didn’t take long for time to stand still again.

Fourteen months after the birth of our son, we became parents to a 6lb, 10oz daughter.

This time, the outfit fit okay.

Time stood still again and almost stopped permanently for me when our second child was four months old.

This is when my blur really began.

On Christmas day, 2004, my left leg began to ache.

By January 1st, it had doubled in size.

It was discovered that I had a massive blood clot on my left side.  I waited until you were not there and asked the doctor for the truth.

I needed to know if I would be okay.  I could tell from his face that it was not good news, but he simply told me he didn’t know

I survived that one and many more.

Time stood still when, at 23 years old, I was told that there was nothing anyone could do for me.  That too many clots had advanced my vascular disease to the point of being disabled and in maintenance mode.

Time stood still again when we had our third baby and second son 2 1/2 years after the last baby.  A 7 lb, 3 oz little bundle with a full head of hair.

Time stood still when I was pregnant and then the baby died, and nobody seemed to care or notice but me.

Time still stands still every single year on February 24th,  the day she should have been born.

Time stood still when we had our last baby, and you thought yet again you might lose me.

You didn’t though, and we brought home a beautiful 7 lb, 3 oz baby girl 4 years after our third child was born.

You have been with me every step of the way and I am so grateful for you.

You support me and understand me in a way that nobody else in the world does.

Through the blur of motherhood, you make time stand still.

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge #2 (Sept 16-18): Group 42, Ghost Story/A Toy Store/A Mop

My Friend, Art

A young man has trouble relating to others and finds comfort and companionship

in a ghostly presence which resides in his mother’s toy shop.

***

“You’re special,” Mama said, “Someday they’ll see that. Until then, you’ve just gotta hold on. You’re not the one with the problem, honey, they are.”

She was trying to cheer me up as she mopped the wide plank flooring of Hockman’s Toy Store. Mama bought the place when old man Hockman died.

I sat on the front counter sipping cherry coke in my Members Only Jacket, unsure of what to say. That jacket was the mark of “cool kids.” My single mother stretched to buy it, but it didn’t help me.

“It’s not that easy, Ma,” I said, “Bullies are bullies because they enjoy it. They pick on me because I’m different.”

The truth was that this was just the way it had always been.

Most fifteen year old boys were spending their Friday nights at the movies. My weekends were typically spent right here. I had a hard time with people, but the dolls never gave me a hard time. I always came away from them feeling a connection and couldn’t say the same about time spent with people.

I got my favorite doll, the one I named Meg. She had auburn hair, freckles, and green eyes. I sat there stroking Meg’s hair and talking out my troubles. A voice came into my head that I had heard many times before.

“They’re wrong, you know. Knowing yourself doesn’t make you weird. I can take care of your problem. You just have to listen to me.”

This voice only showed up at Hockman’s during quiet moments when I was alone. He told me to call him Art. I thought I was going crazy, but when we began having actual conversations, I realized this was more than just my imagination.

“Alright, Art,” I half-seriously entertained his suggestion, “What do I have to do?”

I wasn’t sure what he was capable of, and to be honest that scared me.

“First thing you gotta do is bring ’em here,” he said. “I’ll do the rest.”

“You’re not going to hurt them, are you?” I asked.

“Naw. Just teach ’em a lesson.”

If things were ever going to be different, something had to change. I needed to stand up for myself. I’d been dealing with daily wet willies, swirlies, being stuffed in a locker, and worse for years and I was more than tired of it. If someone wanted to help me get back at these mean kids, I’d go along with it.

“I’ll try to get them to come, but I’m not sure it’ll work.”

Monday after school, Nick was alone. He was the meanest one, with white-blonde hair buzzed so short he was practically bald. His clothes were always dirty and threadbare.

I approached him, unsure of how he would react.

“Hey,” I started.

“What do you want?” he sneered.

“Hey.” I said again, this time with purpose. “We have new candy at the store and need taste-testers. I don’t know anybody. You wanna try some?”

“What’s the catch?” he asked, sizing me up.

Gulp. Could he see through me? I was lying through my teeth.

“No catch. I can’t eat it all. Weak stomach.”

He laughed.

“Shocker there. Weak like the rest of you. Sure, I’ll come.”

Gotcha! Boy, was that easy.

We walked there together. I could hear Art telling me to lead him into the back room and I started unwrapping samples.

As they dwindled, Nick told me I was too stupid to amount to anything and that my mother should place me in an institution. He told me there isn’t any place in society for people who can’t learn to interact with other people. Then he slapped me, hard.

When he slapped me, something came swirling from within my favorite doll Meg and entered Nick’s body. Nick went stiff and straight like a board, and collapsed onto the floor with a resounding and sickening thud.

Once he recovered, Nick extended his hand with a friendly, crooked smile I had never seen before.

“Hey, I’m Arthur,” he said, “I think we’ll be great friends.”

I was confused about what just happened.

“There was a child. I was cruel to her. I followed her here and beat her up. When I did, something came from one of those dolls and swirled through the air before pulling me from my body. I became trapped in that redheaded one you like. The police were called. My body was carted away. That day I ceased to be human. I wrestled for years to overtake you, but you were too strong. I had Nick here within a minute or two. Now he is in that blonde doll and I have a body again.”

“You’ve been using me?” I cried.

“Just biding my time.”

Mama heard me.

“Break. The. Doll.” she said, more serious than I had ever heard her before.

“What?”

“Break it. That’s the only way to release the spirit.”

I broke it into as many pieces as possible. Mama told about her frightening experience with a doll as a teen. She visited a shaman, but never fulfilled the ritual because she was afraid that Arthur would come back. She worked at Hockman’s and purchased it to protect others from the power here. Nick’s soul would be returned to his body and we would seal things to send Arthur on. He would be as a wisp in the wind, unable to attach to anything.

My mother chanted. Louder and louder she grew. The words became difficult as Arthur fought like crazy to hold on to Nick’s body. He finally let go and Nick returned to his body, grateful and exhausted.

After that night, I never played with dolls again. I cannot imagine a closer friendship than the one that Nick and I share. I forgave him and he taught me how to relate to people, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge #1 (July 22-24): Group 42, Sci-Fi/Dance Hall/Lottery Ticket

The Piper

A young woman whose family vanishes and leaves her completely alone meets a handsome stranger who turns out to be not quite who she thinks he is.

* **

When I was barely 19, my family vanished. There was no evidence of foul play surrounding their disappearances and after a while, everyone stopped looking for them or hoping they would return home one day. Instead, they gave up, told me I needed to let go and move on, and let the case run cold.

One night when I was feeling particularly alone, I went out dancing because doing that made me feel alive. The beat was mesmerizing and I began to dance my emotions out, when suddenly someone I had never seen before entered the room. He was tall and handsome, with a chiseled jawline, blonde hair, and sparkling blue eyes. He had charisma that could not be ignored and a quality that made me trust him before he ever spoke. He scanned the room, looking for someone. To my surprise, our eyes locked.

He strode toward me and my heart quickened.

“I’m Hamelin.” said the handsome stranger.

He held out his hand.

“Chloe.” I said, feeling my cheeks go pink. I couldn’t imagine why he would be interested in me.

“Nice to meet you, Chloe.” said Hamelin.

We danced together for a few songs and then, as quickly as he came, he left. As he was heading out the door, I realized he had dropped a piece of paper so I picked it up and ran after him.

“Keep it,” he called. “Maybe you’ll win something.”

The paper he dropped was a ticket for a lottery that was to be held that evening at a club I had never heard of called The Pavilion.

I rushed to The Pavilion, feeling out of place because people looked like they were ready for ballroom dancing instead of swaying mindlessly to the DJ’s beats. I stayed because I thought I might win something with the ticket.

Soon after I entered, the countdown began. It wouldn’t be long before the big moment arrived.

I felt the room buzz with excitement as the drawing crept closer, a sea of faces impatiently anticipating.

“0-9-7-2-4-6,” the voice announced. I could hardly believe it. That was my number!

I went to claim my prize.

I won a trip in a time machine. This terrified and thrilled me, but I accepted because I had nothing to lose. I was told that we were leaving at midnight. It was 11:25 at this point.

Midnight came and Hamelin ambled into the room, walking with what appeared to be a moped.

“Hey,” he said, as he flashed a grin at me. “I’m glad to see you could make it.”

“You’re the time machine guy?” I asked.

“Yep. That’s me.” he said. “I just need to know where…er, when you want to go. The kinks are all worked out, I think.”

I have to admit that the “I think” at the end of what he said didn’t inspire confidence in me as his passenger. I decided to throw caution to the wind though, and live for today.

“I want to go to September 16th, 2009. That’s the day my family disappeared. Maybe if we go there, we can solve the mystery and get them home.”

“You got it!” he said.

“Just one thing before we go, though.” I said. “How does all this work exactly?”

“All we do,” he said, “is put the moped into the stationary bicycle frame, set the gauge to the proper date and time, and the machine will do the rest. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how long it’s safe to stay on the other side of a wormhole, so we need to keep our time short once we are there. No more than 12 hours.”

I asked if he’d done this before and he admitted that this would not only be my maiden voyage, but his as well.

Hamelin turned to me. “Here we go.” he said, excitement and trepidation creeping into his voice in equal parts.

“Here we go.”

We were not in the wormhole long before we suddenly found ourselves standing in the yard outside my childhood home. There were mom and dad, my sister, and even our dog. I ran to throw my arms around them, but they could neither see nor hear me and nothing I did could make them see me.

Hamelin urged me to move forward in time to when they actually disappeared since we only had 12 hours to work with when I noticed someone driving slowly toward my family. As the hooded figure approached, Hamelin became more insistent that it was time to leave. I told him I wanted to stay a few minutes and see what happened.

The figure came very close to my family and the reason that Hamelin was so adamant about leaving when he was growing nearer became crystal clear. The figure somehow convinced them to go with him. As they drove away, the car vanished.

I knew at that moment, I would never see them again.

“Hamelin, please take me home.” I choked out.

“As you wish, my sweet.” he cooed.

He started the moped, set the dials, and put it in motion.

The next thing I knew, we were back in The Pavilion. To my horror, my eyes settled on the spot on the floor where my mortal body lie. I started noticing other things. The Pavilion looked different. It was no longer filled with the living but those who were taken to the other side by the ancient lone piper from the fairy tale, known only to me as Hamelin. My family and I were reunited, not in the way that I had hoped, but we now knew we would never have to part ways again.

As for Hamelin, if you ever meet a disarmingly handsome and charming man in a club who takes a sudden interest in you, my advice is to avoid him as if your life depends on it.

It just might.